HISTORY IS BUNK SAYS HENRY FORD, and LIFE IS AS SIMPLE AS A FORD CAR

New York Times, October 28, 1921

What Difference Does It Make, He Asks, How Many times “Greeks Flew Kites”?

Ford defines the Education we need —Learn to Read and Write, Then Work Out Your Own Ideas, Mix With People, Get Experience

Special to The New York Times.

Syracuse, N. Y., Oct. 28.—”The one thing necessary in the nation today is for  employers and employees to awaken to their opportunities,” declared Henry Ford, who stopped there overnight on his automobile trip from Detroit to the East. “There is nothing wrong with industry, education, religion or politics,” he said, “if one’s eyes are open to the truth, which is that life is really as simple as a Ford car.”

“The solution of all this discontent with which every one except millionaires seem to be shot through,” he said, “is must keeping busy and getting a decent return for it. The boys on my railroad out West keep so busy eight hours a day that they haven’t time to think of striking. They know how to run a railroad and they get paid for it.”

“Railroads should throw their stocks and bonds away as mine did and get down to business and make some money. The strike was threatened for the purpose of stock manipulation. It was called off because the manipulators accomplished some of their purpose and because they were scared.”

“Necessary education is learning how to read and write and write and then working out ideas, mixing with people, getting experience. The schools are all right and their organization should go right on the way it is.”

“History is bunk. What difference does it make how many times the ancient Greeks flew their kites?”

“America is the greatest land and has the greatest people in the world. We are the pioneer stock of the world, whose who dared. We all came from the old country in some sense. Your epople were probably Irish or English. My own father was Irish. My mother was Pennsylvania Dutch. We can’t help but win. We won the war not on a fluke, but because it was right to win.”

….

Contrast these words of Henry Ford, with these of  the Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero:

Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum.

“Not to know what happened before you were born, that is to be always a boy, to be forever a child.”

Did Henry Ford remain forever a boy? And how about us? Will we ever grow up? Life is more that a Ford car, or an iPad. And knowledge of history, and especially prehistory of which Americans know little or nothing, helps us to understand that.

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